ATHENS – Cyprus’ Labor and Social Insurance Minister Zeta Emilianidou, 67, who suffered a brain aneurysm in May, died in a hospital in the Greek capital, her government said.
“I’m deeply grief stricken,” Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said in a post on his official Facebook page. “The loss of our beloved Zeta has left me shattered. … We will all miss Zeta, especially our country that loses an honorable, highly intelligent and effective minister.”
She had undergone emergency brain surgery at the Athens’ Hygeia Medical Center a few days after complaining of severe headaches May 15, transferred to Greece from the island.
One of the few women in the Cypriot Cabinet, she was praised after her passing for being a hard worker who kept out of the limelight and as a skilled negotiator, particularly when an economic crisis broke out in 2013 almost as soon as Anastasiades took office.
He had to deal with banks on the brink of going under because of bad loans to Greek businesses who weren’t paying them back and with their big holdings in Greek bonds that were devalued 74 percent then.
“Zeta Emilianidou stood out throughout her professional, political and personal life for her ethics, integrity, daring and effectiveness,” Member of Parliament Chrysis Pantelides posted on his Facebook page.
Born in the Cypriot capital, Nicosia on Sept. 2, 1954, when the island was still a British colony, she earned a law degree from Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece, and became a laywer in Cyprus in 1978.
She spent nearly a decade as chief of the Customs and Excise Department until 2010, when she was appointed as permanent secretary at the Energy, Trade and Tourism Ministry for three years.
Emilianidou earned respect as labor minister for pushing through a string of reforms, particularly in buttressing workers’ rights and gender equality in the workplace and had been working to pass a bill for a national minimum wage.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)